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Parents, Unite! No Apple Watch for Kids

4 minute read

You know it’s coming. While the sensible majority of parents has already decided the new $350 Apple Watch is too pricey, fancy, and much for a child, some kid with a generous grandma and a knack for ruining everything will turn up at middle school wearing one. She’ll flash the candy-colored apps, shoot the breeze with Siri, and show everyone her heartbeat in real time on the teeny-tiny, supershiny screen. It’s going to look so cool. Our kids may be irreparably dazzled. When this happens, what’s our plan? We’re going to need a plan.

First, we will point out to our older kids that they (probably) already have a perfectly good cell phone that makes calls, sends texts, and yes, tells time. It may even have GPS, WiFi, a browser, FaceTime calling—depending on your house rules and, perhaps, your generous grandma situation. No matter what the phone’s functionality, it will be easier to see and use on the phone they already have than on a wristwatch. That’s right, after fretting and setting limits on the amount of time our tweens and teens spend staring into the phone, we now may have to concede that their current phone is completely awesome. (And be thankful they keep it in their book bags some of the time instead of on their wrists all of the time.)

Next—and let’s just put our foot down and make this the final point, end of discussion—we say “Three. Hundred. Fifty. Dollars.” Don’t bother pointing out that use of an Apple Watch is only possible with an iPhone, so that the wearer must actually own both devices. Refrain from adding that it would be a great tragedy to lose such an expensive item at the park or in the locker room. Not necessary. He’s not going to lose it, because he’s not going to get it.

It seems to me that some of the functions that garnered the Apple Watch a standing ovation during its introduction on September 9 might be downright dangerous in the hands of kids. The constant biometric feedback regarding your activity level and fitness is a major feat of personal technology. But how might a young girl whose body image is in flux react to this information overload? Constant feedback of any kind could be a nightmare for kids with attention-deficit issues. Even the most focused among us may have to adjust to being “tapped” on the wrist by a watch every time we get a message, call, or hand-drawn picture from a friend’s watch. Kids who already have trouble concentrating might completely lose it.

That’s the plan, and I hope you’re in. Between us, though, and let’s whisper now: Could there be any upside to getting a kid this watch? Certainly, one could follow a kid’s whereabouts and stay in contact by calls and messages, but most of that is already possible with a phone. What about the kid whose imagination is set alight by new technology, who wants to understand everything about the latest developments in the digital world? We all know kids who outsmart us on our own smart phones, seemingly by pure intuition, and are experts on how digital devices work. If these kids are the inventors of tomorrow, maybe there’s a case to be made for letting them experience the Apple Watch up close. However, I’d say such kids might benefit from being allowed limited access to a grown-up’s Apple Watch, just to see how it works.

Most kids wouldn’t dare to ask for a $350.00 watch, and I hope that mine has the good sense to be among them. Perhaps she will remember the undercurrent of tension in our home while, for a full 48 hours, her smart phone was sealed in a jar of dry rice, recovering from having been “splashed at the sink”—a euphemism for “submerged in the bathtub,” I’m pretty sure. The pressure of keeping an even more expensive device from damage or loss just might be too much.

A year or two from now, when the newness of Apple Watch has worn off and the price has come down, maybe your kid will have saved up enough money to buy his own. By then, of course, there will be some new and more insidious gizmo in the spotlight, Apple Contact Lenses or Apple BrainChip. Let’s stick to the plan: No, you cannot have that because you don’t need it. Yes, please show me how mine works.

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